KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Her head coach calls her the “complete package.” The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association seems to be in agreement, naming University of Tennessee middle distance ace Sarah Bowman as its 2008 Women’s Division I Indoor Track Scholar Athlete of the Year on Wednesday.
Additionally, Bowman, junior Alicia Essex (Purcellville, Va.), sophomore Lynne Layne (New Rochelle, N.Y.), junior Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) and sophomore Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) were selected for the USTFCCCA Division I Women’s All-Academic Team, and the entire Lady Vol squad earned recognition as one of the USTFCCCA’s All-Academic Track & Field Teams.
“When you talk about the complete package, from the standpoint of athletics and academics and being a good person on top of that, Sarah Bowman definitely comes to my mind,” UT Head Coach and 2008 U.S. Olympic Women’s Assistant Coach J.J. Clark said. “That will be more obvious now, nationally, because she has been named the USTFCCCA Indoor Track Scholar Athlete of the Year. That’s a great, great honor for her and for our program. It just gives her a lot of credit for her hard work, persistency and determination to be solid both in the classroom and on the track.
“Sarah’s success in both areas sets a good example and reinforces the idea that you can be a great student and an outstanding athlete at the same time. If you decide to work at it and work hard, you can definitely do both. It also shows with a little hard work, you can achieve whatever you want.”
Bowman, a native of Warrenton, Va., and a graduate of Fauquier High School, came to UT as one of the most-heralded recruits in the nation in the prep class of 2005. Since arriving at Rocky Top she has not only distinguished herself for her performances on the oval, but also for her achievements in the classroom.
This season alone, Bowman has received a bevy of awards for her academic prowess. Among them, second-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV, USTFCCCA All-Academic Team for both cross country and track & field, SEC Female Track & Field Scholar Athlete of the Year, and SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Additionally, Bowman was a second-team ESPN The Magazine All-District IV selection in 2007 and also was honored on the USTFCCCA All-Academic Track & Field Team a year ago. During her sophomore and freshman seasons, too, Bowman was a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
On the oval in 2008, Bowman recently completed an outstanding junior campaign by becoming the only collegiate performer to make the finals of the 1500 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials in Eugene, Ore., finishing eighth. She had made the field by posting a school-record mark and the number four all-time women’s 1500m readout in collegiate history at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where she finished third in four minutes, 7.50 seconds. That effort earned her the third USTFCCCA All-America award of the season and her sixth as a Lady Vol.
Among her track accomplishments, she increased her total of Southeastern Conference championships to eight by winning mile, 3000m and distance medley relay titles indoors for the second straight season and by taking the outdoor 1500m crown for the second time in three years. After anchoring UT to a runner-up finish in the DMR at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championship meet, she came back in 2008 to carry the Lady Vols to victory in a school record time of 11:01.97. She also posted back-to-back finishes of sixth and third in the mile run at the past two NCAA Indoor meets.
While not overjoyed with the prospect of running cross country at first, Bowman developed into Tennessee’s leader in that sport as well. During her tenure, she has been named All-SEC on three occasions, finishing fourth at the 2007 conference meet, and has been a recipient of All-South Region accolades the past two seasons, posting a personal-best outing of 14th in 2007. She has three career victories to her credit and has led the Big Orange to the finish line on nine occasions, including five of six races as a junior.
Bowman, Essex, Layne, Van Horn and Wright were among 468 student-athletes from 140 NCAA Division I institutions making the USTFCCCA Women’s All-Academic Team. To qualify for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Track & Field Team, the student-athlete must have compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 and have met either the NCAA Division I Indoor automatic or provisional qualifying standard or the NCAA Division I Outdoor regional or national qualifying standard in their respective event.
As far as team recognition, Tennessee was one of 117 programs attaining USTFCCCA Division I Women’s All-Academic Track & Field Team status. The Big Orange did so with a cumulative squad grade point average of 3.06 and was one of only 15 schools to post a top-25 NCAA finish indoors and one of 14 to accomplish that feat outdoors.
“I am very proud that several individuals and also our entire squad were recognized for their work in the classroom by the USTFCCCA,” Clark said. “The expectation is that our student-athletes will strive to excel in both the classroom and in competition, graduate with a degree from the University of Tennessee and go on to live productive lives. These are but a few examples of folks who are proceeding successfully on that course.
“In addition to those named, the team award came to us because numerous others made a commitment to being the best they could be academically and pursuing their goals. I am very proud to see us be successful in all facets, and hope to have this trend continue for many years to come.”